Black Trumpet Dip
         Joe McFarland    ~    Makanda, Illinois
TIP: Black Trumpet mushrooms are a truly wild species that cannot be cultivated. Mushroom hunters find these hollow, feather-light “funnels” between late May and September around oak woodlands in Illinois. They’re hard to spot. But Black Trumpets can also be found dried, in specialty food shops, where anyone can grab them easily.
                                    Of all the edible wild mushrooms in Illinois, the easily
                                            overlooked Black Trumpet is our favorite. They’re thin and delicate--
                                            like a truffle shaving--and are almost impossible to see on the forest
                                            floor. But these dark, flowerlike mushrooms pack a lot of flavor for
                                            their size. One of the most durable qualities of this culinary luxury is 
                                            the fact Black Trumpets are equally delicious fresh or dried--some
                                            chefs even prefer to use them dried, which concentrates the rich flavor. Since fresh Black Trumpets cannot be found in winter in Illinois, dried Black Trumpets from last summer are what you’ll need here. This recipe makes enough to serve up to 20 people, and you’ll want to have plenty. This robust, cream-cheese dip is one of those addicting party favorites that might vanish from the bowl in a matter of minutes. Otherwise well-mannered guests will be seen wiping the bowl with a finger. Even people who say they don’t like mushrooms are overwhelmed by this intoxicatingly rich mushroom experience.
You can learn more about this mushroom, where to find it and how to identify potential look-alikes in the new book “Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois and Surrounding States” (2009 University of Illinois Press).
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