The simplest way of cooking mushrooms is usually the best, and this may be broiling, sauteing in butter, or stewing in a little cream sauce. These simple ways may be varied by seasoning with sherry, Madeira, or lemon-juice. Any meat stock may be used to stew them in, but many of the mushrooms are very juicy, and their flavor must not be lost by diluting them with too much liquor. They may be cut in pieces when used for sauces. When dried and powdered they make an excellent, seasoning for sauces. Dried cepes may be bought at grocers', and are very useful to stew in sauces.
It is better to cook mushrooms as soon as they are peeled, and to rinse them only as much as is necessary, as they lose some flavor by soaking. When they are to be used for garnishing, they are thrown into water with lemon-juice, one tablespoonful of juice to a quart of water, and are afterward boiled in the same water; this keeps them white. The water they are boiled in should be saved to use in sauces. Again, they may be put into a saucepan with butter and lemon-juice, and cooked (stirring frequently) for about five minutes. They are then covered to keep them moist and white until ready for use. Lemon-juice keeps them white, but the flavor of the mushroom is somewhat destroyed by it, and so it is not recommended for general practice. The French peel the caps with a fluted knife to make them more ornamental, but it is a difficult operation, and does not repay the trouble.
"Mr. George Augustus Sala, in a discourse on 'Dinners Departed,' refers to the famous a la mode beef, served in the days of old at the 'Thirteen Cantons,' in Blackmore Street, Drury Lane, and of which Soyer was very fond. The dish was remarkable for its rich sauce, the concoction of which was a close secret. However, the former proprietor of the old eating-house confided the receipt to Mr. Sala. Thus: 'It was simply made from a particular mushroom, which he called "morella," and which I infer was the Morchella esculenta, described in botanical works. These mushrooms were gathered in the fields round about the metropolis, dried, reduced to powder, and then used to thicken the sauce and enhance the flavor of a la mode beef' "
This is one of the most common and easily recognized mushrooms, and in their season enough for a sauce may be gathered in almost any dooryard. The difference between the real and the false fairy is easily distinguished, the former having the gills wide apart, and a little mound rising in the center of the cap, while the "false" have the gills close together and usually a depression in the center of the cap.
If the "fairies" are dry when gathered soak them in water for a little while, and then saute or stew them. Put a tablespoonful of butter in a saucepan; when it bubbles add a teaspoonful of flour, and cook the flour a few minutes, but not brown it; then add a half cupful of water or of milk, stir until smooth, and add a pint of the "fairies." Simmer for fifteen minutes, season with salt and pepper. Pour this over softened buttered toast or over meat; use water to make the sauce if they are used with meat, and milk if served on toast; or cook them by sautelng them in a little butter, and serve them on softened toast.