Reprinted in May edition of
Shake Up Your Sex Life with Shiitake

by Chef Carlo J. Morelli

Can You Shake Up
Your Sex Life with Shiitake?

I'll Show you how!

Chinese emperors consumed Shiitake mushrooms in large quantities to fend off old age.

The ancient Japanese courts held the Shiitake in such high regard and so valued it for its aphrodisiac properties, that the growing sites were well hidden and heavily guarded.

Mushrooms are the mysterious ingredient in stories and folk tales. They stand accused in the deaths of such eminent personages as the real Emperor Claudius.

By the Middle Ages their toxic qualities were harnessed into an effective fly killer.

Fame finally came to at the box office, with it's starring role in Andy Warhol's "Eat," the forty-five-minute movie of a man eating a mushroom.

Mushrooms are an ancient food, some varieties traceable to the Stone Age. They were the food of the Pharaohs in ancient Egypt, and they remained the food of the rich throughout nineteenth-century France and England.

For all their haughty associations, and famed naughtiness, mushrooms area most primitive plant. Varieties are found the world over and successfully cultivated in caves, and in underground quarry tunnels, as in seventeenth-century France; and in abandoned limestone mines, as in present-day Pennsylvania.

Mushrooms in general, and Shiitake in particular are used as a powerful sexual stimulating tonic, and homemade concoctions for fertility are still found all over this universe.

Well, apart from the obvious sex maniacs, another group of people who might want to give you more thoughts about the virtues of Shiitake mushrooms are the so-called health maniacs. Shiitake is widely recognized as a health food, initially by the Chinese and Japanese, and now increasingly, by doctors and scientists the world over.

Edible mushrooms have been traditionally used throughout the Orient for their medicinal and tonic properties. A derivative property, lentinan, has been demonstrated to enhance host resistance against infections from various types of bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.

There were those who enjoyed the benefits of the mushroom, albeit with some reservations, as much as an appreciative mushroom fancier. The famed French author Alexander Dumas often had second thoughts. "I confess," he wrote early in the nineteenth century, with a regretful tone, "that nothing frightens me more than the appearance of mushrooms on the table, especially in a small provincial town."

And Fannie Farmer, a legendary cookbook maven, in her 1909 edition, seems more adventurous than usual when she urges that "since mushrooms grow about us abundantly, they therefore should often be found on the table."

Martha Washington offered that George especially enjoyed just a bit of cream to heighten the flavor of her recipe "To Dress a Dish of Mushrumps."

Soooooo, whether you were Martha, trying to jazz up ole George, or a fat emperor fighting off Father Time, nothing beats using the mushroom to light the romantic fires in your life . . . and if all else fails, try this: Steak Aphrodite

Chef Carlo Morelli

Reprinted in
Copyright © 2003 by Carlo J. Morelli. All rights reserved.

Steak Aphrodite

Pulling out all the stops. This is a gourmet French recipe, Tornadoes de boeuf, celebrated in honor of a Grecian sex Goddess, Aphrodite, and adding a Chinese aphrodisiac, Shiitake, enhanced by an Italian Chef . . . how in the heck can you miss?

4 (3 oz) split Filet Mignons, thawed (center cut beef tenderloin medallions)
1/8 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs. Butter
1 tsp. Dijon style mustard
2 Tbs. Shallots, minced
1 Tbs. Butter
1 Tbs. Fresh Lemon juice
1/8 tsp. Fresh Garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 med. Shiitake mushrooms, sliced to 1/8 in. (if dried, reconstitute in 1/2 cup hot water for 20 min, retain water)
1 Tbs. Fresh chives, minced
2 Tbs. Sherry
1 tsp. Brandy or Cognac (optional)
1 Tbs. Fresh parsley, minced

1) Season both sides of steak with salt and pepper.

2) Melt butter in a heavy skillet; add mustard, and shallots. Sauté over medium heat 1 minute.

3) Add steaks, cook approximately 4 minutes on each side for medium rare. Remove steaks to serving plate and keep warm.

4) Add to pan drippings, 1 Tbs. butter, lemon juice, Sherry, 2 Tbs. mushroom water and mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, and chives. Cook for 3 minutes.

5) If you wish to Flambé*, tilt the pan slightly, and pour the Brandy or Cognac into the front edge of the pan; turn the heat to high and let the flame (or if electric, light with a match) catch the Brandy's vapors and ignite it. Swirl slightly, turn off the heat and let the flame go out.

Present on pre warmed plates, and sprinkled with parsley.

May I suggest a full bodied vintage Burgundy wine, as in Vosne Romanee.

Serves 1 pulsating sultry maiden, and 1 burgeoning lover.

* * *

*Flambé, means to ignite foods that have liquor or liqueur added. This is done to add a dramatic effect, and to develop a deep rich flavor. Use an 80-proof Brandy or Cognac. Liquors that are higher, 140 and 100 proof are a bit too volatile when lit, the pyrotechnics should be left for the restaurant dining room pros. Heat the Brandy (or liquors and liqueurs, in the case of fancy desserts) in a saucepan, just until bubbles begin to form around the edges. May also be heated in a microwave oven by heating 30 to 45 seconds in a microwave proof dish at 100 percent power.

NOTE; Never pour liquor from a bottle into a pan that is near an open flame—the flame can follow the stream of alcohol into the bottle and cause it to explode.

Ignite with a long match. Always ignite the fumes and not the liquid itself. Never lean over the dish or pan as you light the fumes.

Tip for the adventurous mushroom gatherers: A precaution from Marion Harland in her 1873 classic, Common Sense in the Household: A Manual of Practical Housewifery:

"Boil gathered mushrooms with a white onion while stirring them with a silver spoon," she cautioned, "if the onions turn black or the spoon darkens, throw everything away." Still, she offered this comprehensive observation, as she remained suspicious, insisting that the poisonous types "sport all colors and are usually far prettier than their virtuous kindred." . . .sheeesh!

©2003 Morelli Publishing
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