Fennel Mushrooms

Fennel Mushrooms Recipe


I thought it might be fun to highlight a few vintage cookbooks in the coming months. I pick them up here and there, without much rhyme or reason. There might be a design element I like, it might be the voice of the author, or sometimes a single recipe pops out at me. I typically flip through them in antique shops on road trips, at yard sales and flea markets, but I found this gem at Omnivore Books here in San Francisco - The Seasonal Kitchen: A Return to Fresh Foods. Published in 1973, it is by Perla Meyers, was published by Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, and designed by Al Corchia. I did an updated take on Perla's Fennel Mushroom recipe for today's post, it's a simple, brilliant twist on everyday sauteed mushrooms with dill, chives, fresh fennel, and a kiss of creme fraiche.

Fennel MushroomsFennel MushroomsThere are so many things that resonate with me in this book - subject matter, design, the emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients. More than anything, I love the approachability of Perla's voice. She opens the book by saying, "Of all the reasons I have for writing The Seasonal Kitchen, the most important is to communicate and understanding of freshness and encourage a return to seasonal cooking. This is not a book for organic-food buffs, however, but for anyone willing to explore and rediscover the marvelous potential of fresh food." Remember, this book was published nearly forty years ago. In many ways it reads like it was written yesterday.

Fennel MushroomsFennel MushroomsFennel Mushrooms

You just don't see cookbooks that look like this today. Even better, the ideas behind the recipes are straight-forward, produce-centric, and easy to update. To make these mushrooms, I replaced a substantial amount of sour cream with a dollop of creme fraiche, and never missed the former. And I give a few suggestions related to serving them in the head notes below.

This book was a real find, the sort of discovery that keeps me digging through stacks of books, but I'm certainly not the first to sing Perla's praises. Perla Meyers elsewhere:

- New York Times
- Perla Meyers: The Seasonal Cook
- A Culinary Luminary: Perla Meyers

 
 
 
 

Fennel Mushrooms


The mushrooms are great on their own (as pictured), spooned over a thick slab of grilled, garlic-rubbed bread, or over a simple baked potato. They make a fantastic tart or sandwich filling, and would be great as a component in a simple fall panzanella. I used nameko mushrooms here, a favorite from my farmers market, but brown mushrooms will work brilliantly as well. To clean mushrooms use a damp paper towel to remove dirt.

12 ounces mushrooms, brushed clean
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
a few pinches fine grain sea salt
1 small bulb of fennel, trimmed and sliced very thinly
1-2 tablespoons creme fraiche
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
a small bunch of chives, minced
freshly ground black pepper
a small bunch of watercress, sorrel, or arugula
1 teaspoon of olive oil

Cut mushrooms, if needed, into 1/3-inch thick slices. The mushrooms I used, up above, we're mostly left whole.

In your largest skillet, over high heat, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and a few pinches of salt, and use a spatula to stir until coated. Saute, stirring every minute or so, until the mushrooms release their water and brown a bit - 4-5 minutes. Two minutes before the mushrooms are done cooking, stir in the fennel. When finished, removed from heat, wait ten seconds, and stir in the creme fraiche. Add most of the dill and chives, pepper and more salt if needed.

Quickly toss the watercress with the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Serve the mushrooms immediately alongside the watercress.

Serves 2-3.

Inspired by the Fennel Mushroom recipe in The Season Kitchen, by Perla Meyers, published by Holt, Rinehart, & Winston in 1973.

Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 7 min

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Your Comments


la domestique
October 1, 2012

I've always got my eyes peeled for a special vintage cookbook, so this post is right up my alley. My latest find was The Edible Mushroom by Margaret Leibenstein, published in 1986. The freshness of fennel and earthiness of mushrooms is a combination that never goes out of style. Great post!

 

Anne Marie
October 1, 2012

Your photography is beautiful, as usual.

 

Caz
October 1, 2012

Vintage cookbooks are a great find and make you realise that all the ideas about cooking we think are new have been around for ages. I love the design inside the book with fall written in the corner. Fennel and mushrooms is a combination I've never tried, great idea!

 

thecitygourmand
October 1, 2012

Some things you just don't need to mess around with. That message seems to resonate through with this type of cooking. This would make a great bruschetta topping!

 

Averie @ Averie Cooks
October 1, 2012

What a great cookbook. Nice find!

I love fennel, so much! It's so under-rated I find. I wish more people knew how fabulous it was! This looks great!

 

Mike
October 2, 2012

Never heard of Perla Meyers before and I just realized that I've missed a lot. Thanks for signaling this; I'll make sure to catch up asap!

 

sangeeta khanna
October 2, 2012

This is such a flavorful salad. Would love all the textures too. Can't take my eyes away from the picture :-)

 

Kathryn
October 2, 2012

Really love the idea of this series and I can't wait to see what you come up with.

 

adam and theresa
October 2, 2012

yes, it seems incredibly forward thinking for 1973. Just her clothes and the colour-tone of the front cover that give her away.. : )

 

Belinda @zomppa
October 2, 2012

I admit, that cover rocks. She is STYLIN'!

 

Jenna
October 2, 2012

Is there a good vegan substitute for the creme fraiche here?

 

Maggie at Eat Boutique
October 2, 2012

I adore vintage cookbooks. That one is quite a find - the book design is beautiful! xox.

 

Diane, A Broad
October 2, 2012

How neat! It just goes to show you that all new ideas are old, in a way. You've inspired me to go digging through the stacks at some of the vintage bookstores here in Paris to see if I can find some gems.

 

DessertForTwo
October 2, 2012

Since it's fall, I've been choosing a cookbook from my collection every night to read in front of the fireplace. Even if I've had a book for years, I always find something new that speaks to me!

Love this :)

 

matt
October 2, 2012

That recipe looks phenomenal. And the design of that book and the cover? Oh man oh man!

 

Bev @ Bev Cooks
October 2, 2012

I absolutely LOVE finding old vintage cookbooks. I have this faded green one on a cookbook shelf in my kitchen.

However, I have it bookmarked to the OPOSSUM STEW. That's embarrassing.

 

Kathleen
October 2, 2012

The recipes don't age but sometimes the writing does. I just bought a Betty Crocker book from the early 60s (one my mom used when we were young) and the tips and tone of it are jaw-droppingly dated. I love mushrooms and often crave them. Your recipe looks perfect.

 

leaf (the indolent cook)
October 2, 2012

What a great find! I should keep my eyes peeled for vintage cookbooks. The recipe looks good and simple.

 

sixtyfive
October 2, 2012

I've had this book for decades - since 1975, no doubt, when the paperback was issued. It was highly praised at the time, and my own flyleaf note says "this is a wonderful book". Thanks for prompting me to dig it out!

 

Patricia
October 2, 2012

I love this book! It was the first cookbook I bought for myself, way back in 1973 or '74 I think -- in my first year at university. My parents entertained a lot, partly because of my father's line of work, and I often helped my mother in the kitchen. Many of Perla Meyer's elegant recipes were very much enjoyed by their dinner guests. It is still on my bookshelf -- alas, minus the lovely dust jacket.

 

Hen of the Woods
October 2, 2012

I can't wait to try this with some of the wild mushrooms I have been gathering. If I can find some great russulas or lactarius this late in the season, I think they would be perfect, but if not, I think the ubiquitous honey mushrooms (armillaria species) will also work well! Great find. I love all your shroom recipes!

 

Wholesome Hedonist
October 2, 2012

Heidi, have you heard of Edna Staebler? She was a journalist and prodigious Mennonite cook in Waterloo County here in Ontario, Canada who wrote a series of cookbooks called 'Food That Really Schmecks.' She was really a powerhouse, and her books have delicious, local recipes and the most amazing, engaging voice that sounds like Elizabeth Gilbert if she had grown up a mennonite in the 1930's. Thought you might enjoy them.

 

Jacqui
October 2, 2012

The design of that book is so great! Finding old cookbooks like this is something I love doing too, but this is a great find!

 

Morgan
October 2, 2012

We have a great used bookstore in Phoenix where I go to escape mid-work day. I am instantly drawn to the cookbook section where I could literally spend hours flipping through vintage food photography, recipes and tips. Need to find this book asap.

 

CindyLou
October 2, 2012

One of my first cookbooks! I bought this just before moving to the Middle East where I knew my cooking would be more "seasonal." Thank you for sharing this gem.

 

CindyLou
October 2, 2012

One of my first cookbooks! I bought this just before moving to the Middle East where I knew my cooking would be more "seasonal." Thank you for sharing this gem.

 

Catherine
October 2, 2012

Perla's book "Spur of the Moment Cook" is one of my very favorite cookbooks. I've actually picked it as my first Julie & Julia-type-endeavor, and I am cooking my way through every recipe. While a bit meat-heavy for my tastes these days, every recipe is simple, fresh, unusual, and unpretentious. And I found the book for $5 at a used book store! I'll have to keep my eye out for other ones, too.

 

Stacy
October 2, 2012

I love how this book is obviously of a different era (see: those shoes, that hair) while also reminiscent of the books popular today. What a lovely find!

 

Eileen
October 2, 2012

I love vintage cookbooks! Super excited to see where this project goes. :) Fennel and mushrooms sound like a great match.

 

Saeriu
October 2, 2012

I love vintage cook books. I collect them and can never resist them when I see them at yard sales, thift shops, and whatnot. My favorite are Farm Journal cookbooks. They are consistently reliable...everytime. I have about 12 different ones but there are several more out there...just waiting to be scooped up.

 

Judy
October 2, 2012

More than 30,000 rare and out of print cookbooks are available at this store.

(626) 296-1638. E-mail: cookbookjj@gmail.com

 

Susan
October 2, 2012

I'm so happy to see you feature this book. I bought it when it was newly out in paperback, when I returned from my first year at French university. It helped me feel not so far away from Europe. I use it so often that it is one of the few books sitting in my tiny kitchen.

 

Megan Gordon
October 2, 2012

Love this idea, Heidi, and always wanted to do something similar on my blog with all of my grandmother's vintage cookbooks ... ah, if there were only more hours in the day! Hope you're enjoying that Indian summer I'm hearing tales of. xx, mg

 

Susan
October 2, 2012

"Remember, this book was published nearly forty years ago. In many ways it reads like it was written yesterday." That is exactly what I was thinking when I read the quote. It is amazing how people were looking at food like this so long ago (not just quick convenience foods for their new microwaves). It almost seems like a "fad" today.

 

Carly
October 2, 2012

Great flavor combination. Fresh fennel is so great!

 

Betsy
October 2, 2012

The Seasonal Kitchen was one if my very first cookbooks! It's wonderful that you are reviving it.

 

Elliepie
October 2, 2012

Wow. The concept and the design both feel really of-the-moment. What a gorgeous book! I'd love a copy,

 

Barbara O.
October 2, 2012

Your post made me pull out my copy of this (yellowed) vintage cookbook. I used to use it all the time and it introduced me to the concept of seasonal cooking that I still utilize. Try the bass in basil sauce (for summer). The recipe calls for freshwater (small) bass, but I usually get the larger ocean fillets. Yum!

 

Lizzy (Good Things)
October 2, 2012

I love the sound of this book, Heidi, it fits so well with my own philosophy. What a great find!

 

Tobie
October 2, 2012

I had that cookbook way back when and it was a favorite. I seemed to have lost it in one of my moves. Thanks for the recipe.

 

greenthyme
October 2, 2012

What a great find! I'm curious....do you really have 101 cookbooks in your collection now ;) ?

 

Lisa
October 2, 2012

Headed to Whole Foods to pick up the ingredients to make this baby tonight. I can't wait!

 

liz
October 2, 2012

My favourite vintage cookbook is The Wharfedale Cafe CookBook which was produced by the co-op wholefood cafe of same name in Leeds, UK during the 1980s. The recipes are all delicious, simple, and personable, and the illustrations are charming.... I've just ordered Perla Meyers book by the way, thank you!

 

Susan
October 2, 2012

Hi Heidi, My mother cooked all the time when I was growing up and I remember sitting at her kitchen table and flipping through her Gourmet magazines and cookbooks. And we had Perla Meyers cookbook! I have it now in my bookcase and flip through it each season.

Thank you for your post... great memories!

 

Joan M
October 2, 2012

Thanks for spreading the good word about Perla Meyers! I still regularly use the battered paperback edition of this book which I got over 35 years ago. I love her seasonal approach to ingredients and meal-planning. She made me realize how easy it was to make my own mayonnaise after I followed her directions for aoli sauce - cutting down on the garlic by about 75 per cent the second time I made it :)

Your photography is a wonderful accompaniment here, as usual.

 

Roz
October 2, 2012

I happen to have Meyers' Seasonal Kitchen as well as Peasant Kitchen and The Art of Seasonal Cooking. While her books are for omnivores, herbivores can adapt a good many of her wonderful recipes. She is a gem!

 

katrina
October 2, 2012

I remember her! Loved her cookbook and had a great seasonal eating calendar one year from her. Love this recipe!

 

Nancy
October 2, 2012

This was one of my first cookbooks along with The Grub Bag. I rally loved the way it looked and the fact that it called for fresh produce. I see it periodically in our used book stores here in Austin. Thanks for sharing!

 

Tv Food and Drink
October 2, 2012

I feel the same way about some of these cookbooks. Often times I just pick them up because they reflect a publishing style of another decade, regardless of whether or not I have any interest in the recipes. Looking forward to seeing more from you.

 

Carla Rollins
October 2, 2012

I worked for Holt, Rhinehart & Winston in New York in 1970. It was an interesting place to work...just coming out of the 60's and into the 70's enjoying food again. We all had to be Twiggy in the 60's. I used to make creamed eggs on toast when I wanted to impress a date. Sour Cream was a staple back then. Nice book; I'll look for it.

 

Anonymous
October 2, 2012

I still have Perla Myers cookbook...thanks for reminding me

 

Katie@Cozydelicious
October 2, 2012

These mushrooms look wonderful! I think a big bowll of them topped with a poached egg would be fantastic!

 

Terry Grunwald
October 2, 2012

I have this one, too and remember really liking it. I also have 2 others by her: "The Peasant Kitchen" and "From Market to Kitchen Cookbook". Strange that you deem it vintage. Makes me feel really old.

 

julie thrapp
October 2, 2012

Lisa--let us know what you think of this recipe, any changes or substitutes etc. It's always helpful to hear opinions of the recipes.

 

Emma Roberts
October 3, 2012

This is a perfect autumn recipe on a drizzly night - would also make a great little hors d'oeuvre on toasted ficelle bread. Can't wait to try!

 

Jillian@TheHumbleGourmet
October 3, 2012

I love substituting creme fraiche or greek yogurt for sour cream. There's always a little something more happening.

 

Maryn
October 3, 2012

I used to have this also - and recall it as a great book, though a bit of the Moosewood era in its very free use of cream and cheese. (Good idea to lighten up from the sour cream in the original!)

 

Rocky Mountain Woman
October 3, 2012

I haunt old bookstores for that very reason. Although because of the fact that I am vintage myself, I have quite a few cookbooks that I bought new that are now as vintage as I am, you can never have too many cookbooks!!!

 

Kathryn Tobias
October 3, 2012

I have a first hardback edition of this, bought right after I graduated college. I've looked through it over the years and wanted to cook from it but just never found anything that I wanted to fix. (I probably bought it for the cover and "fresh" approach.) This cookbook seems more like fresh French bistro cooking. Lots of meat dishes. I'm glad to have a recommended recipe to try. It's intetesting to compare this to Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which came out just before this book. In that sense, this book really was "fresh".

 

flynn
October 3, 2012

I really have to find this book online now; my favorite "old school" cookbook is the Vegetarian Epicure. It still resonates as thoughtful, seasonal, homey cooking, though (as others have commented) the version of "healthy" it presents differs from the more stringent measures of today. I'd love to see more like this recipe in my kitchen :)

 

Hilary
October 3, 2012

LOVE this vintage vibe!

Also, just made your lentil soup and the millet muffins on a whim [from SNED]. and both were fan-freaking-tastic! Thank-you!! :)

 

Sally - My Custard Pie
October 4, 2012

There's nothing I like better than browsing through old cook books. This is a really special find though - lovely use of typography and layout.

 

Sara
October 4, 2012

Made this for my husband last night, and he was very happy! Thanks for the recipe...will definitely keep this one!

 

Jill @ 42potatoes
October 4, 2012

Mushrooms are wonderful. Period. Thank you for the recipe! I'll have to go check out that cookbook - it looks great just by the pictures. Thanks again, Heidi!

 

Julia {The Roasted Root}
October 4, 2012

This looks like a wonderful cookbook chock full of delicious recipes! I can't wait to pick up a copy and also to try the fennel mushrooms!

 

Cindie
October 4, 2012

Cookbooks like this make me want to dig through the books at thrift stores and find a gem like it! Those mushrooms look great too.

 

Oui, Chef
October 4, 2012

Lovely dish, what a lucky find you made with this stylish book.

 

Bryan Davis
October 5, 2012

I am not a big fan of mushrooms but this dish tastes truly amazing! This recipe is a keeper!

 

Jody
October 5, 2012

I actually bought this book way back in the day...1970`s.

It was my first introduction to seasonal cooking.

 

Eliza
October 6, 2012

I have a terrific book of hers called "Spur of the Moment Cooking" -- she is a terrific cook and author. Glad to see that you highlighted this book

 

Sarah
October 8, 2012

Love vintage cookbooks---the thrill of the hunt is so good, and makes it that much more exciting when you dig up a good one.

This mushroom dish is beautiful. Our friends with a Russian background make something similar---can't wait to try this.

 

chris
October 8, 2012

This is one of the first cookbooks I bought as a new cook. I return to it as each season arrives. My paperback copy is yellow, spattered, and held together by rubber bands!

 

nbm
October 8, 2012

Thanks for naming the designer, Al Corchia. What a beautiful book.

 

Renee
October 9, 2012

I found this cookbook at the thrift store a couple of years ago and bought it for the font and cover color alone. It's such a beautifully designed book.

 

Cindy
October 9, 2012

Thanks for sharing this with us :-D
I made a variation with oyster/trumpet mushrooms and white mushrooms and added some Lemonjuice, freshly chopped parsley and some parmesan. It was just awsome!!!

 

Cat
October 9, 2012

I gave this to my partner to cook last night - substituting coconut cream for the creme fraiche to make it vegan. Absolutely delicious, which isn't surprising given that it's come from 101cookbooks! Thank you for yet another winner of a recipe!
Cat x

 

Diane
October 9, 2012

I also bought this cookbook back when I was a sophomore in college. It is a great cookbook and opened my eyes to so many new food ideas. Make the Rolled Cake filled with Blackberries and Whipped Cream. I have made it many times. Wonderful. Thanks for the reminder of how happy this book made me.

 

Kathy Fitz
October 9, 2012

Heidi,
this crack me up in a major way!!!!
This is one of the very first cookbooks
I bought as an 20 something trying to figure how to cook! My room mate Leslie and I had cooked every page from Gale Green and were just mad to find a new new thing--- Back in NYC I found this one. lol- play that disco music baby and cook--- love it kfitz

 

Kathy Fitz
October 9, 2012

Heidi et al....
thought you might get a kick out this comment from one of my very best customers and now a great friend, Anna
"i will always be grateful to Heidi's blog, as that is how I found your amazing spices!!!!"

H-- you bring it in so many dimensions!
Love kfitz

 

Lydia Uzzell
October 12, 2012

Hi Heidi,

A bit of a random question - I see you have a gorgeous marble countertop! As someone who obviously loves to cook, and does so often, how have you found it has held up to etching, stains, etc? I'd love to do marble and am having a tough time convincing my husband that it will look AMAZING and that etching just adds character.... is yours honed?

Thanks so much!

Lydia :-)

PS - LOVE your blog, I've made so many of your recipes, and often cook them when we entertain. Our guests are always amazed that vegetarian meals can taste so great.

 

Note di cucina
October 14, 2012

Hi! We’re a couple of Italian vegan foodbloggers. Your recipes are...amazing! Wow! Thanks a lot for sharing them with us :-).

 

Rose
October 14, 2012

Perla Myers' Peasant Kitchen is also fantastic.

 

joan
October 15, 2012

Please please please post more recipes like the fennel and mushrooms just made it,absolutely loved it for its simplicity thank you.

 

Bugiss
October 18, 2012

I would love to get my hands on this cookbook. I have one but my dgeahtur wants her own copy. I, too, bought it in the 70 s and it is a great basic, authentic cookbook.

 

Leanne
October 25, 2012

The Seasonal Kitchen was one of the first cookbooks I bought on my own, back in the 70s. Great book.

 

Ha! My mom had that book! Wow. How things from our childhood make our way back in our lives. There are some great recipes (and memories) that came out of that book.

 

This looks so simple and delish- vintage treats. I love the idea of fennel & mushys over potatoes! Very clever, and as usual, very inspiring.