2015’s Amateur Mushroom APPETIZER Cook-Off Finalists Announced

This year’s finalists in the Mushroom Appetizer Cook-Off are:

  • Kathleen Harman, of Abbottstown, PA with Mushrooms on Fry Bread
  • Lynne Laino, of Downingtown, PA with Mushroom Ragu Puff Pastry Dippers
  • Tami McIntyre, of New Castle, DE with Wild Mushroom Two Cheese Quesadilla with Chipotle Cilantro Mexican Crema
  • Patrice Brink of Landenberg, PA with Baby Bella Mushroom and Dried Cherry Crostini
  • Michael J. Kolachny, Jr, of Newark, DE with Raw Mushroom Endive Bites
  • Karen Giacomucci, of Prospect Park, PA with Mushroom Caps Stuffed with Crabmeat

Congratulations and good luck to all of the Finalists as they vie for the $500 First Place prize and trophy.

The Cook-off begins at 10:30am on Saturday, September 12 in the Special Events Tent.

Judging begins at 11:30 am.



Mushroom Taquitos wins 2014 Amateur Mushroom Cook-off

Judging the Cook-Off were Sharrie William for 6ABC, Tina Verrelli, our Guest Chef, Pa. Secretary of Agriculture George Greig, and Barry Sexton, Guest Chef.

Judging the Cook-Off were Sharrie William for 6ABC, Tina Verrelli, our Guest Chef, Pa. Secretary of Agriculture George Greig, and Barry Sexton, Guest Chef.

Congratulations to Kathleen Harman of Abbottstown, Pa. for winning 2014’s Amateur Mushroom Appetizer Cook-Off with her recipe for Mushroom Taquitos. The recipe is below.

Danielle Sanderson’s Cremini and Caramelized Onion Tartlets were awarded second place and Nancy McKenzie’s Baby Vello ‘Shroom Taco Bites placed third.

Kathleen Harman's Mushroom Taquitos won 2014's Amateur Mushroom Appetizer Cook-Off

Kathleen Harman’s Mushroom Taquitos won 2014’s Amateur Mushroom Appetizer Cook-Off

MacKenzie's Baby Bello 'Shroom Taco Bites with Peach Jicama Salsa placed third.

MacKenzie’s Baby Bello ‘Shroom Taco Bites with Peach Jicama Salsa placed third.

Sanderson's Cremini and Carmalized Onion Tarts placed second.

Sanderson’s Cremini and Carmalized Onion Tarts placed second.


Danielle Sanderson

Danielle Sanderson

Nancy MacKenzie

Nancy MacKenzie

Jane Henry

Jane Henry

Kathleen Harman

Kathleen Harman

Katie Hagerty

Katie Hagerty

Devon Delaney

Devon Delaney


Finalists in this year’s cook-off were:

  • Jane Henry (Avondale, PA) – Baby Bella Shrimp Bangers
  • Katie Hagerty (Garnet Valley, PA) – Mushroom Medley Flatbread
  • Danielle Sanderson (Philadelphia, PA) – Cremini & Caramelized Onion Tartlets
  • Devon Delaney (Westport, CT) – Saigon Summer Salad Rolls
  • Nancy MacKenzie (Newtown Sq., PA) – Baby Bello ‘Shroom Taco Bites
  • Kathleen Harman (Abbottsown, PA) – Mushroom Taquitos

Check the website in July 2015 when the rules and applications for 2015’s Amateur Cook-Off will be available.

Mushroom Taquitos

Kathleen Harman's Mushroom Taquitos won 2014's Amateur Mushroom Appetizer Cook-Off

Kathleen Harman’s Mushroom Taquitos won 2014’s Amateur Mushroom Appetizer Cook-Off

3 large tomatillos
1 small onion, halved, 1 half chopped coarsely
1 jalapeno
2 ½ tsp. garlic powder, divided
1/3 cup plus 2 T cilantro
16 oz portabella mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp. cumin
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
12 small corn tortilla
2 cups vegetable oil for frying plus 1 T

In pot of boiling water, place tomatillos, ½ onion and jalapeno and boil until tomatillos are soft Strain water and place in food processor with 1/3 cup cilantro, 1 tsp. Garlic powder, 1/8 tsp. Salt Process until lumpy, smooth Put back in drained pot and bring to a boil, reduce and allow to simmer 5 minutes. Remove and cool until serving.

Sweat the mushrooms, onion, garlic, and jalapeno in a saute pan with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil Add cumin and 1 ½ tsp garlic powder and toss to combine. Cook another two minutes. Season with salt to taste. Remove to a food processor and pulse the ingredients thoroughly.

Heat each side of a tortilla for 10-15 seconds. Fill the tortilla with a tablespoon of filling and a tablespoon of cheese and roll into a taquito, securing with a toothpick. Repeat, keeping taquitos covered with a damp towel before cooking otherwise the corn tortillas will dry out and crack. Heat 2 cups oil in a straight-sided pan to 350 degrees F. Place the taquitos in the hot oil in batches and shallow fry until crisp, rolling to cook all sides, about 3-4 minutes.

Drain the taquitos on paper towels and salt. Remve the toothpicks before serving.

To serve, place 3 taquitos on a plate and top with tomatillo salsa, sprinkle with additional cheese.

Yield: 1 dozen, 3 per serving.

GrilledCrimini Reuben Sliders
wins 2013’s Amateur Appetizer Cook-off


Nancy MacKenzie, of Newtown Square, Pa was named the winner in this year’s Amateur Cook-off where contestants were asked to prepare a mushroom appetizer dish.  Her dish, Grilled Crimini Reuben Sliders wowed the judges for its creativity, use of mushrooms, appearance and taste.

Second place was awarded to Christina Verrelli, of Devon Pennsylvania with her Kennett Square Ultimate Mushroom Shallot and Bacon Nachos appetizer.  Dolores Contiagiani, from Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania received third place for her Fried Caprese Mushrooms dish.

Those competing in the 28th Annual Mushroom Festival’s Amateur Mushroom Appetizer Cook-Off were:

  • Laura Lufkin, from Essex, Massachusetts, with Abbondanza Mushrooms and Sausage Bites
  • Danielle Sanderson, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with Crimini Mushroom and Tomato Bruschetta with Goat cheese, Toasted Pinenuts and Truffle Oil
  • Dolores Contigiani, from Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania, with Fried Caprese Mushrooms
  • Nancy MacKenzie, from Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, with Grilled Crimini Reuben Sliders
  • J. Roger Greer, from Coatesville, Pennsylvania, with “Hot” Shiitake “Sausage” Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Christina Verrelli, of Devon, Pennsylvania, with Kennett Square Ultimate Mushroom, Shallot and Bacon Nachos

Grilled Cremini Reuben Sliders
By: Nancy MacKenzie of Newtown Square, PA


8 cremini mushrooms, stems removed
16 slices rye bread
6 Tbsp. butter, divided
salt & pepper, to taste
¼ lb. Swiss cheese
½ cup sauerkraut
6 Tbsp. Ketchup
6 Tbsp. smoked horseradish sauce

In a fry pan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. When melted, add the mushrooms and sauté for 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Using a 2” round cookie cutter, cut out 16 rounds from the rye bread. Using the remaining butter, spread on one side of each round.
In another fry pan, place rye bread rounds, buttered side down, to grill. When grilled to your liking, place a mushroom on 8 of the rounds. Top each round with 2” round of Swiss cheese, 1 tablespoon sauerkraut and 1 tablespoon sauce*. Place another round on top, grilled side up.

Serve 2 sliders on a plate and enjoy. Extra sauce can be passed around.

In a small bowl, mix the ketchup and horseradish sauce. Set aside.

Serves 4, 2 sliders each

Scenes from the 2013 Amateur Mushroom Appetizer Cook-off

Shiitake, Ginger & Pork Pot Sticker Soup
wins the 27th Annual Mushroom Festival’s
Amateur Mushroom Soup Cook-Off

It was a hard fought battle for the title of Best Amateur Mushroom Soup for 2012 with many creative and unique ideas for mushroom soup. But in the end the judges chose Tina Verrelli’s Shittake, Ginger & Pork Pot Sticker Soup as the winner. Tina, from Devon, Pennsylvania, returned to the competition for the third straight year and this is her second championship. Her recipe is below.

In second place was Danielle Sanderson with her Chipotle Mushroom Chowder. Third place went to Nick Haros with his Mushroom Avgolemono.

2012 amateur soup winnerShiitake, Ginger & Pork Pot Sticker Soup

20 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
3 T canola oil, divided
1 t sesame oil
3 t mined garlic, divided
3 t finely grated ginger, divided
2 cups bock choy ( 1 cut white stem finely chopped + 1 cup greens cut in bite-sized strips), divided
5 t soy sauce, divided
9 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
1/3 pound ground pork
2 T chopped cilantro, divided (additional for garnish)
18 pot sticker wrappers

Chop sliced shiitake mushrooms into small pieces. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil over medium heat in pot (4 quart or larger). Add sesame oil, 2 teaspoons garlic, 2 teaspoons ginger, and 1 cup of finely chopped bok choy stems. Cook, stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Add 4 teaspoons soy sauce and mushrooms. Cook over medium heat stirring frequently for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove 1 cup of cooked mushroom mixture, set aside, then add 8 1/2 cups chicken broth. Adjust heat to maintain low simmer and cover.

In medium bowl combine pork, reserved 1 cup mushroom mixture, remaining 1 teaspoon each of garlic, ginger, soy sauce. Add 1 tablespoon of cilantro and green onions. Mix until combined. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of pork mushroom filling into the center of pot sticker wrapper. Use some reserved broth or water to dampen around the edge of the wrapper. Use your fingers to press the two sides of the wrapper together to form a semi-circle shape. Gently press the bottom of the pot sticker on a flat surface to form flattened bottom. Repeat to form 18 pot stickers.

Heat remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil over medium heat in large (12 inch or larger w/lid) non-stick skillet. Place pot stickers seam side up/flattened bottom down in skillet and cook over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Add 1/4 cup of reserved chicken broth or water and cover pan with lid. Reduce heat and allow to steam for 5 minutes.

Stir 1 cup bok choy greens, 1 tablespoon cilantro and 1 tablespoon green onion into soup.

Arrange 3 pot stickers in each bowl. Ladle soup over pot stickers. Garnish, if desired with additional green onions and cilantro. Serve and Enjoy!

Note: if you can’t find round pot sticker wrappers (I found them in the produce section at Wegmans” you can use square wonton wrappers and trim the corners to make a round shape.

2011 Amateur Mushroom Soup Cook-Off Results

Katie Hagerty

Katie Hagerty


The results of the 2011 Mushroom Soup Amateur Cook-off are:
First place: Chianti Crimini Mushroom Soup with Blue Cheese Crostini by Katie Hagerty of Garnet Valley, Pa.
Second place: Big Sam’s Italian Mushroom Soup, by Samuel Onizuk, of Elkton, Md.
Third Place: Harvest Pumpkin Soup by Becky Caruso of Potomac Falls,Va.

Other Finalists included:

  • Fresh Mushroom-Caprese Soup, by Michelle Christensen, of State College, Pa.
  • Rustic Mushroom and Shallot Soup, by Barbara Ruhmann, of Townsend, Del.
  • Mushrooom and Swiss burger Bliss Soup, by Tina Verrelli, of Devon, PA.

2011 Mushroom Soup Cook-off Winning Recipe

Chianti Crimini Mushroom Soup with Blue Cheese Crostini, by Katie Hagerty of Garnet Valley, Pa.

Chianti Crimini Mushroom Soup with Blue Cheese Crostini, by Katie Hagerty of Garnet Valley, Pa.

Chianti Crimini Mushroom Soup with Blue Cheese Crostini

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

24 oz. Sliced Crimini Mushrooms
1 Leek, white end, sliced crosswise
4T Olive oil
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Shallot, finely chopped
2T (divided) Blue Cheese, crumbled
1/2 Cup Chianti (red wine)
48 oz. Beef Broth
1T Rosemary, fresh, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper—to taste
French Bread, sliced about ½-inch thick

Rinse Mushrooms in cool water to clean, slice thinly. Rinse Leeks in cool water clean, cut off white end and slice crosswise.

Over medium heat in large pot, heat olive oil. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute. Add shallots sauté about 2- 3 minutes. When garlic begins to brown, add leeks and mushrooms, slightly reduce heat. Sauté another 8-10 minutes, until mushrooms are soft and begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Increase the heat back to medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the crumbled blue cheese and let melt, about 1 minute. Add the Chianti wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the beef broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, add ½ tablespoon of the rosemary, and let cook for about 15 -20 minutes.

While soup is cooking, preheat oven or toaster oven to 425-degrees F and slice the French bead. Mix together the remaining 1 tablespoon of blue cheese and ½ tablespoon of rosemary. Brush the sliced bread with a light layer of olive oil and top with the blue cheese rosemary mixture. Bake the bread for 4-6 minutes, or until golden brown.

Add salt and pepper to the soup. Cook over low heat for an additional 5-10 minutes. Remove soup from heat. Pour into bowl and place blue cheese crostini on top. Garnish with fresh rosemary if desired.


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