Mushrooms and truffles belong to the group of fungi - plants without chlorophyl - green coloring matter. They are usually placed among the nitrogenous foods simply because they do not contain starch or sugar. Some varieties contain ninety per cent, of water; of the remaining ten per cent, a portion is vegetable fibre - nitrogenous material. The nitrogen they contain, however, is not valuable for tissue building.

They are food adjuncts rather than true foods. Many varieties are dense and difficult of digestion, and for this reason we have not placed them among the foods that take the place of meat.

The subject of selection is too large for the available space in a vegetable cookery book, so I shall give a few recipes for cooking, drying and canning the more common varieties. I should like to emphatically state that there is no royal road to distinguishing the poisonous from the edible varieties of mushrooms, or what the common folks call mushrooms and toadstools. If you do not know the characteristics of the edible mushrooms it is best to avoid all varieties. If you are sure of but one variety, stick to that. The common tests of salt and a silver spoon, or the peeling of the cap, are all fallacies.

All mushrooms are best cooked without peeling with the exception of the puff ball, which should be pared.

In washing mushrooms, take one in each hand, gills down. Plunge them into a basin of water, rubbing the caps with your thumbs. Shake dry and drop into a colander.

Agaricus campestris, the common edible mushroom, is the only one that can be successfully canned. I have canned other varieties but they lose their flavor. Lcpiota procera, or the "parasol" or "Scotch bonnet" mushroom, is most easily dried; in fact, drying seems to intensify its flavor.

The following recipes will answer for Agaricus campestris, Lepiota procera, Coprinus micaceus, Coprinus contains, and atramentarius.

Stewed Mushrooms

Wash one pound of mushrooms; cut into slices. Put them in a saucepan with two tablespoonfuls of butter, a teaspoonful of salt and a half pint of milk. Cover the kettle and stew slowly half an hour. Moisten two tablespoonfuls of flour in a little cold milk; when perfectly smooth, add it to the mushrooms. Bring to boiling-point, add a saltspoonful of black pepper and serve.

Creamed Mushrooms

Stew the mushrooms according to the preceding recipe. When ready to serve, pour them on squares of carefully toasted bread.

Broiled Mushrooms

Cut the stems close to the gills. Wash the mushrooms and put them on a wire broiler over the fire, gill sides down; if you broil in a gas stove, gill sides up. Broil five minutes; turn. Put a piece of butter the size of a pea in the centre of each mushroom and dust lightly with salt and pepper. Broil skin side down for five minutes. Have ready squares of neatly toasted buttered bread. Put the mushrooms on the toast, skin side up, and send them at once to the table. Allow five mushrooms to each square of bread, one capping the centre.

Baked Mushrooms

Wash one pint of mushrooms after cutting the stems close to the caps. If the stems are solid, they may be saved for the flavoring of sauces. Crowd them, skin side down, in a baking-pan; dust lightly with salt and pepper; pour over a tablespoonful of melted butter and bake in a quick oven twenty minutes. Toast squares of bread; butter and arrange on a hot platter; put five mushrooms on each square of bread, skin side up. Baste with sauce from the pan and send at once to the table.

Under A Mushroom Bell

Cut rounds from slices of bread with an ordinary biscuit cutter; toast and butter them, and put one slice in the bottom of a mushroom dish. Stem, wash and drain the mushrooms. Put four mushrooms, skin side up, on each piece of bread; dust with salt and pepper; pour over six tablespoonfuls of cream; cover with the "bells," stand the dishes in a baking-pan and then in a hot oven for twenty minutes. Send to the table without lifting the "bells." Have the waitress lift the "bells" after the guests are seated that they may get the full aroma of the mushrooms.

Mushrooms In A Chafing-Dish

Stem, wash, and cut into slices one pound of mushrooms. Put two tablespoonfuls of butter in the chafing-dish; when it is hot, put in the mushrooms; sprinkle with a teaspoonful of salt and a saltspoonful of pepper; add a half cup of milk. Cover the dish, cook slowly for five minutes, stirring twice; moisten a tablespoonful of flour in a little cold milk; add this to the mushrooms. When they have reached the boiling-point they are ready to serve. To give variety, add, at one time, the beaten yolks of two eggs and a half cup of cream in the place of the flour and the milk. If the eggs are added, serve them as soon as they boil, or the mixture will curdle.

Morchella

(Morels, or Cup Fungi)

Morchella esculenta is one of the best known varieties of mushrooms in many of the New England States. They may be stewed, panned or baked the same as other varieties. In France the stems are removed, the mushrooms stuffed with highly seasoned bread crumbs and baked precisely as you would bake a tomato. Serve them with either cream or tomato sauce.

Puff Balls

(Lycoperdon giganteum) Pare the puff balls and cut into slices. Be sure that the flesh is perfectly white. Dust the slices with salt and pepper, dip in beaten egg and drop at once in a small quantity of very hot olive oil. When browned on one side, turn and brown them on the other. Drain On brown paper and send at once to the table. If you only find one good-sized puff ball, and you have a number of old Agaricus campestris, stew them together; it improves the flavor of both.