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Archive for June 16, 2012

NEWS: White Button Mushrooms Are Not So Boring After All

White button mushrooms. Photo by Paul
Cowan | BSP.


After growing up on white button mushrooms, food enthusiaists have foraged for more flavor excitement than the old standard offers.

The mild-flavored classic whites, the cultivated, smooth, creamy-looking reliables found fresh at every market and—gasp—also sold canned, were sidelined by anyone with pretensions to a fine palate.

Chanterelles, chicken of the woods, creminis, enokis, maitakes, morels, porcinis, portabellas, shiitakes and baskets full of other exotic and lovely fungi provide more flavor, texture and eye appeal (check out all the mushroom varieties in our Mushroom Glossary).

Now, there’s a new reason to take a bite of buttons. Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., Director of Tumor Cell Biology at the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, and his team have discovered that Agaricus bisporous, white button mushrooms, are a potential breast cancer and prostate chemopreventive agent. Components in the mushrooms suppress aromatase activity and estrogen biosynthesis (here’s the full article, written for a medical audience).


*Other foods also contain anticarcinogens. For example, pomegranates can inhibit estrogen production and limit breast cancer cell growth. Blueberries may be effective in fighting an aggressive subtype of breast cancer.

So feel free to add white button mushrooms back into your repertoire. Tell critics that they’re a proven anticarcinogen. (It’s likely that other mushrooms are similarly helpful, but they weren’t part of the research study).

  • Serve your favorite stuffed mushroom recipe with drinks.
  • Top pizza with mushrooms.
  • Make pickled mushrooms, and serve them as a side with everything from breakfast eggs to sandwiches to dinner entrées.
  • Serve sautéed or grilled mushrooms as a side with any protein, as part of a mixed vegetable mélange or on a grilled veggie sandwich.
  • Serve them as a first course, with some grated Parmesan and cracked pepper.
  • Spoon sautéed mushrooms atop pasta or add mushrooms to your tomato sauce.
  • Enjoy mushroom risotto more often (recipe).



  • 6 ounces whole wheat fettuccine, linguine or other cut
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cup sliced shallots
  • 8 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 pound asparagus spears, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cups vegetable broth
  • 4 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil

    Mushrooms and asparagus with orecchiette pasta. Photo courtesy Barilla Pasta.



    1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

    2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large deep skillet over medium heat. Add shallots. Cook and stir 3 to 4 minutes.

    3. Add mushrooms and asparagus. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until asparagus is tender yet still crisp.

    4. Add garlic during last minute of cooking. Sprinkle flour over vegetables. Cook and stir 1 minute. Stir in broth and simmer 3 to 4 minutes or until sauce thickens.

    5. Drain pasta, divide among four plates and top with sauce, cheese and basil.

    Makes 4 servings.

    Serve with a large green salad topped with sliced raw mushrooms and/or pickled mushrooms.

    *Recipe courtesy City of Hope.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Lemonade & An Electric Citrus Press (Juicer)

    The easiest way to juice citrus. Photo
    courtesy Krups. Information about the juicer.


    We had dinner at a friend’s house the other night and found her juicing lemons with an old-fashioned citrus reamer (a ridged cone set on a handle). If you rarely juice a lemon, it works just fine.

    But if you regularly use citrus juice—or would like to have fresh grapefruit juice or orange juice every now and then—it can get tiring. Plus, a citrus reamer does not strain out pulp and seeds, so you have to sieve the juice.

    Consider an electric juicer, officially called a citrus press. It doesn’t take up much space; this model, from Krups (in the photo), is just seven inches wide. You can find an affordable model, or spring for the Krups deluxe stainless steel juicer ($127.48).

    Then, instead of working out your arm to juice the citrus, you simply hold the halved fruit against the juicing cone (with the Krups juicer, you can use the lever); the machine does the work.


    Now that it’s summer, when life gives you a citrus press, make fresh lemonade.



  • 1-1/2 cups sugar (or equivalent agave, honey or non-caloric sweetener)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh lemon juice (8 large lemons)
  • 5 cups cold water (40 ounces)

    1. In a 64-ounce pitcher,* bottle or other storage device, stir together sugar and cup boiling water until sugar dissolves.

    2. Stir in lemon rind, lemon juice and 5 cups cold water. Chill. Serve over ice.

    *If you don’t have a large pitcher (or room for one in the fridge), you can divide the batch into two quart bottles. We save the bottles from store-bought juice for this purpose.


    Fancy Ice

  • Freeze lemonade into ice cubes: Melting lemonade “ice” won’t dilute the drink.
  • Add a garnish to each ice cube compartment: a piece of citrus peel, a mint leaf, a cherry (dried, fresh or marascino).
  • Crack the ice cubes into smaller pieces with an ice crusher. Some people own ice crushers or blenders that crush ice; we use a manual tool like this. Hold the ice cube in your hand and hit it with the crusher end. (NOTE: Smaller pieces of ice melt faster than whole cubes, so if your lemonade is at room temperature, you’ll want to keep the ice cubes whole)
    Gourmet Lemonade Flavors

    You can flavor the lemonade or set out a “flavor bar” so guests can add their own:

  • Fruit Juice: cherry juice, lime juice, pomegranate juice.
  • Fruit Purée: berry purée, mango purée, peach purée.
  • Wild Card: hot sauce.
  • Spirits: Gin, tequila and/or vodka.

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